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with about twelve other series
By now, you may have noticed that I’m a true sucker for the train wreck that is VH1 reality programming. Their collaboration with producers 51 minds has yielded a hamster wheel of sublebrity drama–a cycle that bests even that of the Bachelor franchise–in which drunk biatches can become self-righteous boyfriend bait faster than you can say, “Did this all really begin with Flava Flav and Brigitte Nielson hooking up?”
Yes, it’s trash. But do you really blame me? Life, as you’re well aware, is really fucking tough if you take a moment to smell not only the roses, but the feces tornadoes that are our country’s democratic conversation or the world’s ability to feed itself. A person needs an escape. Sometimes it’s heroin, sometimes it’s Rummikub. Sometimes it’s Bret Michaels banging a really gross, crazy chick.
So of course I was first in line to watch my most loathed character ever, Megan Hauserman, televise her gold digging on Megan Wants A Millionaire. The brain cells I lost during the pilot were more than made up for by the gleeful groans I expressed while watching oogly, self-important “millionaires” (Does $1.1 million ‘net worth’ really count? Not that I’m number crunching) vie for the affections of a weak-voiced, leggy blonde whose face will certainly go within the next five years.
As the first few episodes rolled out, it seemed Megan was actually reality gold: far more savvy than your average trophy wife, with a complete lack of soul. In fact, it seemed almost organic to set the match-up process of money-making douchebag with money-grubbing tramp in a TV elimination process, since it’s all fuckery and performance anyway.
I was enthralled. And though she rubbed lips with both grubby old dudes and closeted trust fund baby, I held high hopes that by Episode 13, she’d realize that her perfect match was a cocky Canadian playa named Ryan, who caught her early attention by telling Megan he wouldn’t make her sign a prenup (game, set…). Three shows along, and I felt Ryan was in it to win it.
Then, suddenly, it got real dark.
Ryan, who apparently moved on to the 3rd season of I Love Money and married Playboy model Fiore shortly after getting eliminated by Hauserman (the marriage was short-lived), was thrust into a completely different kind of spotlight when his ex-wife was found dead and mutilated in an Orange County dumpster nearly two weeks ago. After fleeing on foot, he was upgraded from “person of interest” to person charged with murder. Yesterday, he himself was discovered dead, hung from a coat rack in a motel room. And as it turns out, Jenkins had a record of domestic violence, for assaulting a girlfriend in 2005 (shame on the producers for their shoddy background checks).
VH1 has since canceled and erased all trace of Megan Wants a Millionaire and I Love Money 3 from their website and program listings.
And I find myself now reeling with both fascination and strange pangs of guilt for watching him in the first place. It’s natural when watching reality to get to know, begin to identify with, and develop loose affection for the contestants. So watching this kind of terrible saga unfold feels, for some reason, personal. Why must I feel that way? It’s horrific.
Perhaps the reality is that reality television isn’t just an escape. The players may be trashy, the music cues may be funny, but the people are real. And sometimes, all too real.